Seeing thousands of Americans turn to prayer in the aftermath of the Sept. 11 attack gave a visiting Christian lecturer hope that there will be a positive effect from the tragedy.
Reaching for God
By Mary Adamski
"If it turns the whole nation back to God ... we will look back and say we needed this mid-course correction," said the Rev. Henry Blackaby, author of the bestseller "Experiencing God, Knowing and Doing the Will of God," which is used as a study guide by Baptist and evangelical congregations.
"I think personally that the nation was taking a direction that was not healthy for the nation. It (the attack) has turned the nation and leadership back to taking life more seriously, turning in a strong way back to God," he said in an interview.
The founder of California-based Henry Blackaby Ministries and former executive with the Southern Baptist Convention was keynote speaker at a conference of the Fellowship of Companies for Christ International this week on Maui. About 400 business executives from the United States and Canada attended.
Blackaby will speak tonight at Waialae Baptist Church on "God's Activity in Tragedies." The 7 p.m. talk will inaugurate the Alec and Belle Waterhouse Lecture Series.
"Too much of the nation had turned selfish and self-centered. If you just watched what was happening in Washington, in an election where the nation was divided down the middle; certainly politics was very divisive, they could not get anything done. We forgot there was a common enemy.
"Most people say this kind of tragedy brings unity in government," Blackaby said. "We were turning away from God in government and courts were anti-Christian. Now you see the whole Congress and whole government praying and schools praying. If a nation leaves God out, it's destined to be doomed.
"We have been fortunate as a nation that there has been no disruption in the homeland. God is letting it be known that the enemy is very real and we are not invulnerable."
"Now you see the whole Congress and whole government praying and schools praying. If a nation leaves God out, it's destined to be doomed."
Rev. Henry Blackaby
Author of "Experiencing God, Knowing and Doing the Will of God"
Blackaby has spoken on several Christian radio talk shows since the attacks took more than 6,000 lives and found that "Everyone sooner or later asks the question 'Why does God permit this to happen?' We often forget there are many sides to the love of God. Our children, when we discipline them, they think we don't love them.
"Many people feel that God has to prevent all evil," said Blackaby, but the Christian belief that God made humans in his image means he "left mankind free to choose. Unfortunately that's true when it's a serial killer or when a parent kills a child. It means we don't blame God for what man does by choice. It's a toughy.
"Why does God permit terrorism, which is pure evil? I believe we live in a world where he has permitted sin ... if he allows man a chance to make choice. The God whose nature is perfect love, yet man can choose to kill. It's tough to understand."
Blackaby said the terrorists' actions were not the only choices to turn from God. "We have a society that wants to eliminate any thought of anything being a sin. We have moved so far away from God to be anti-God, that was true in the entertainment industry.
"The breakdown of the family is breakdown of the nation," he said. "God hates divorce, the breakup of a family is not what God would have ordered.
"I think this (national response to the tragedy) has the potential of re-establishing relations between parents and children."
"God is absolutely just. I'm glad he doesn't leave the justice to me," said the preacher whose 43 years as a minister also included work as a pastor in Canada and California. He is the author of a dozen books.
"I believe our leaders will have an unusual capacity to bring a deterrent. I pray for them. Where God gives an assignment, he also gives the wisdom to carry it out. I am glad we have leaders who say, 'We are going to ask God for that wisdom.'"
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